PASSENGER TRAVEL NEWS.
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The Latest Doings and Developments in the Bus and Coach World.
MORE TRAMCARS BEING DISPLACED.
The Wolverhampton Authorities, Impressed by Birmingham's Successful Adoption ol the Trolley-bus, Decide to Scrap Certain Tramway Tracks.
AFEWweeks ago we were able to refer to the bold move made by the Birmingham Corporation in substituting trolley-buses for tramcars on a certain route in the city, and to the fact that the tramway tracks, which were deemed too costly to replace, were being taken up. We then suggested that, as a result of the remarkable success of this scheme, the enterprise of the Birmingham authorities would be closely followed by other municipalities which, on account of the marked depreciation of their tram tracks, were faced with the expenditure of considerable sums of money, or with the adoption of an alternative system of passenger transport.
The Wolverhampton Corporation has not failed to notice the success which has attended the efforts of its neighbours in Birmingham in connection with the operations of trolley-buses, and in considering the question of reconstruction of the Wednesfield tramway track, which has been receiving attention for some time past, it has profited therefrom, as details in a report of the tramways committee go to prove :—
The present track to Wednesfield was laid in the year 1904, and has been scheduled as part of the reconstruction work now due to be undertaken. The narrowness of the road in places would not permit of a double track being laid without certain consents being first obtained as provided by Section 17 of the Wolverhampton Corporation Act, 1904 Notices, as required by that section, wer( accordingly served upon thelowners and occupiers of property affected, and a number of objections were received to suchl proposal. In view of this, and of the fact that the estimated cost of such doubling of the track would place a capital burden upon the undertaking which is not warranted by the track of this particular route, and which would prevent for a considerable time any reduction of
fares to anything like the pre-war level, the committee turned itaconsideration to other forms of traction.
The tramways manager reported upon alternative fauns of traction, and recommended the trolley-bus as being the most suitable for this route.
Expert advice upon the matter was thereupon sought from Mr. Alfred Baker (general manager of the Birmingham Corporation Tramways), and after viewing,
the route he made the following recommendations :—First, that, the Corporation should not proceed with the reconstruction or doubling of the tramway track but should substitute some other form of traction, and, secondly, that the form of traction to be substituted should be the trolley-bus service. Mr. Baker also endorsed the estimates of the tramways manager previously submitted to the committee with regard to this type of service; and was in a position to give very reliableadvice as a result of the trolley-bus service which has been in operation in Birmingham for some months, the Corporation having substituted this service in lieu_ of reconstructing one o fits single lines of tramway.
The committee visited Birmingham to see the trolley-bus service in operation, and were in every way Satisfied that the installation of such a service is a !mind proposition.
Amongst the advantages of adopting the trolley-bus system of traction on the Wedneafield route mentioned in the report are : (1) The cost of installing the system is less than reconstructing the existing track, (2) The overhead equipment is already in existence and only needs adapting with the return wire necessary to carry the electric current when there are no rails.
(3) The effect 'would be to 'give the benefit of t double track, as the vehicles can pass at any point on the route, enabling a better service to be maintained.
(4) The Wednesfield route is a singledeck route owing to the existence of low bridges. The seating 'capacity of the cars is 52,, lathilst the seating capacity of the proposed single-deck type of trolley-bus is approximately 40.
(5) The trolley-bus can be drawn up at the side of the road for passengers boarding or alighting from the vehicle.
(6) As compared with the motor omnibus—
(a) The trolley-bus would use home produced power (i.e., electricity from the Corporation undertaking).
(b) Owing to the absence of the engine, vibration is much reduced, ensuring smooth running.
(c) The space usually taken up by the engine can be utilized for seating.
(c7) The depreciation of the vehicle is considerably less than with
• a petrol-driven vehicle as a result of the elimination of engine, gearbox and clutch. After full investigation, the committee decided to recommend the trolleybus type of traction being installed on the Wednesfield route, subject to no objection being raised by the Minister of Transport, and the road authorities concerned, viz., Wednesfield and Heath Town 'Urban District Councils. At a conference with representatives of these councils (held after the members of such councils had had an eppertnnity of viewing and testing the system in operation at Birmingham, and had expressed their approval of the trolley-bus) terms have been agreed for the taking up of the existing track and reconstructing, the road with tarmac. -It has also been agreed with the Wednesfielcl Urban District Council to extend the service from the present terminus into the village of Wednesfield, now that the Rookery Bridge has been widened.
The tramways manager has submitted the following estimates of the costs of the proposal, viz. :— Cost (after allowing for sale of scrap materials) of reinstating track with tarmac' and adapting remainder of roadway, including agreed contributions to • road authorities £5,000 Adapting overhead equipment £1628 Purchase of six vehicles at
The proposal, if carried into effect, will, of courser provide a greatly improved roadway and easier traffic conditions for all other classes of vehicles now using the road, and the trolley-bus ser-. vice could be commenced and maintained daring the period that the conversion is being carried out.
Against this expenditure would be credited the amount realized by the sale of eight old tramcars which could be dispensed with, estimated to realize £2,000.
It should be pointed out that to reconstruct the present single track with loops, or to double the track, would involve a capital expenditure which would undoubtedly result in a loss being sustained on that route, whereas, on the figures quoted, the tramways manager estiniatee that a small profit would accrue from the operation of the proposed service. The recommendations of the tramways committee have been endorsed by the 'Corporation, which has applied to the Ministry of Transport for sanction to barrow the sum of £10,328 in. respectof the purchase of the six trolley-buses and the essentials required to adapt the existing overhead 'equipment